Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Posted by Shelly at 10:42 AM
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Posted by Shelly at 2:16 PM
Monday, July 1, 2013
Posted by Shelly at 7:15 PM
Friday, June 28, 2013
I sit on the floor of a bookstore and I am overwhelmed as I pour over titles and covers and table of contents and skim chapters and pages of so many books I lose count. Thousands of souls lay bare in front of me. Bare and exposed and powerless to withdrawal their words, authors stare at me from back covers.
To imagine my own book on these shelves one day is terrifying. I picture my words here...available for any stranger to read...to love or to hate.
I feel vulnerable.
This writing is an exposing of one's most inner thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and fears. It is an uncovering, a confessing, a revealing.
My heart beats fast and I am afraid. Afraid to succeed. Afraid to fail.
A familiar voice tells me I will never be good enough and I can never work hard enough.
And then I remember our reflection verse this week in our current Online Bible Study. I remember Martha and Mary and I remember the one thing.
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42.
As I dig a little deeper I discover what my heart already knows. There are many matters that cause us to be anxious and distracted from the one thing we were created for. There is only one thing from which all other things are birthed that is required of us. It is the better choice and it is good, beneficial, and worthy.
It is to sit at the very feet of Jesus. To surrender. To exalt Him above everything else in our lives, no matter how pressing or important or necessary. When Jesus calls, we must accept His invitation.
As I consider my current project in light of this scripture my thoughts change. This writing is an exposing and all those other things, too, but it is more.
It is worship and it is sacrifice. It is intimate and it is personal but it is not mine.
As I sit at the master's feet, as I chose the one thing that is required and good, then will His purpose pour out of me and then will His glory be revealed in my story and through my words, whether they ever find their way to those bookshelves or not.
As you surrender those things that are causing you anxiety, whether it is work or ministry or tribulation, and find your place in His presence, you will have chosen well.
As you lay down those distractions and cease striving and doing and working to prove yourself or make sure everything is just right, and instead sit at the feet of Jesus, you shall hear His word as Mary did.
Verse 39 says, "And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word."
As Mary settled near Jesus, she heard his word. She positioned herself close enough to understand every word He said and she heard Him.
I want to do everything I can for God. I want to lead Bible studies and write books and teach and encourage others and fulfill my purpose. I want to understand and know and hear Jesus. But it must all start by sitting at His feet. We must find a place near Him and dwell there. His presence is our starting point. It is the place from which everything else we do must begin.
Can you lay down those distractions and surrender your anxieties today? Can you cease for a moment and spend time at the feet of Jesus? I'm praying you can. I'm praying I can. Let us sit together and listen for His words.
Father, your word says as we draw near to you, you draw near to us. We choose to draw near to you today. We long for your presence and desire to hear you speak to us. Help us to lay down whatever might be keeping us from you. Give us courage to trust and strength to obey. Have your way in our lives. Be glorified in all we say and do. We choose the one thing, the better thing. We choose you. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
Linking with Melissa Taylor and a community of women for the last week of our current online Bible study, Stressed-Less Living, by Tracie Miles. Click here to find your way there.
Our next study, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa Terkeurst, starts July 28th. Want more info? Click here.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
- The strength to hold my tears in when my littlest left for church camp this morning! And even more thankful for his thumbs up as the bus pulled away :)
- Divine connections and friendships through OBS and Proverbs 31 Ministries
- The opportunity to attend She Speaks again next month (I'm a 2011 alumni)! Woohoo!! (Don't know what She Speaks is? Click here!)
- My hubby's confirmed vacation for next month and friends who are generous with their lakehouse :)
- Fresh veggies from the garden
- The privilege of being a stay-at-home mama/writer/Bible study leader :)
- Books! I love books.
- Plug-in air fresheners.
- Cute hats on days I don't have time to brush my hair. Like today.
- Pretty dresses for only $14.99.
- Scrapbook paper and glue sticks.
- Cards in the mail.
- Second chances.
- Pumpkins growing by my front porch.
- Jesus. So thankful for Jesus.
- Transformation and change.
- Time in His presence.
- The Word of God, powerful and true.
- Realign your life (according to the Word)
- Recognize your need
- Adjust your focus
- Be filled with the Spirit
- Be faithful to your prayer life
- Believe God is who He says He is
Posted by Shelly at 3:25 PM
Thursday, May 30, 2013
I smile as I consider the possibilities.
Perhaps my own daughter, who will soon be twenty-one, once held this flower in her tiny hands. I can see her gently picking this fragile gift and then hiding it behind her back as she runs mischievously toward her Maw-Maw.
Or maybe it was taken as a token of remembrance during the celebration of the life of my grandfather?
No matter its origin or previous owner, this flower, has been picked for me today. It is a special gift and I leave it in its place in hopes that the next recipient of this time-worn concordance might find it there.
As I peer into the scriptures, the old flower and gift of remembering are not my only blessings.
Every time I open the Word of God and choose to meditate, reflect on, and study the words found here, my heart is overwhelmed at the goodness of God. Tucked within its chapters are nuggets of wisdom waiting to be discovered and promises ready to be received and lived out.
Our Memory Verse for Week 8 of our Online Bible Study is Psalm 22:4-5. It says, "In You our Fathers put their trust; they trusted and You delivered them. They cried to You and were saved; in You they trusted and were not disappointed."
All week I've been meditating on these verses and I've focused on:
- Trusting and putting my confidence in God, and
- God's ability to save and deliver.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
As I studied Matthew 6:33 this week as part of our Online Bible Study, God continued to remind me that everything I need is found in Him.
"But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." KJV
"But seek for (aim at and strive after) first of all His Kingdom, and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right], and then all these things taken together will be given you besides." AMP
"Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions...." The Message
"Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what He requires of you, and He will provide you with all the other things." GNB
We are commanded to let go of worldly cares and receive His divine care and provision. And to do this, we are told to seek Him first.
Let's get a deeper understanding of these two words by looking at some synonyms.
SEEK - try to find, search for, track down, dig for, probe for, investigate, explore, examine, inspect
Seeking demands time spent.
And when we spend time with Jesus, we begin to know Him.
Seeking produces intimacy.
An intimate knowing. A discovering. A deeply personal union.
Not only are we to seek Him, but we are to seek Him first.
FIRST - foremost, leading, principal, main, prime, head, highest; basic fundamental, primary, beginning, starting point
God has to be our starting point.
When He becomes our beginning, our primary focus, the starting point of anything that we do or ask or seek, a shift occurs.
Seeking causes a shift:
- from carnal to spiritual
- from natural to supernatural
- from earthly to heavenly
- from temporal to eternal
Maybe life has overwhelmed you this week or even this day. I, too, found myself overwhelmed and anxious over some things the last couple of days. But when I began seeking Him and bathing my mind, my heart, and my spirit in His Word, a shift occurred. Although my circumstances remained the same, my thoughts changed and I found peace and grace in the middle of my messy places.
You can find it to.
There is nothing like His presence. Make the choice to spend some moments alone with Him now. Your Father is waiting.
(Synonyms taken from Roget's Thesaurus 3rd Edition 1998)
Joining with Melissa Taylor and a community of women as we seek God and His Word together in our current Online Bible Study: Stressed-Less Living by Tracie Miles. Click here to read more blogs in our blog hop.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Today I had the privilege and honor once again of being with the "Golden Girls" of Cornerstone Church (my home church). Last month we learned how to dig into God's word deeper and hear Him speak to us personally through scripture. This month we tapped into our creativity and painted His Word.
We began by seeking God and asking what He wanted each of us to paint. We worshiped and painted as an expression our love to Him. Beautiful and imperfect, like each of us, pieces of art were formed right before our very eyes.
We learned that we are each unique, created in His image, special, and chosen. At the end of our painting exercise we put all of our paintings together and created one big, beautiful masterpiece. We are each individually amazing but TOGETHER we are so beautiful, no matter our weaknesses and flaws.
At the conclusion of our time in the classroom, each lady chose a "word" from a basket. It was incredible how God spoke to each one of us. One lady received the same word she had painted just a few minutes earlier. Another received confirmation of something God has previously spoken to her. And my word echoed what God has been speaking to me, as well. I heard exclamations, one after another, of God's goodness and love as He poured over the ladies with His promises and hope.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Though my doctor delivered a bad report and breathed out uncertainty, my God breathed life and spoke promises that couldn't be broken. I heard His voice that day on the floor of my bedroom. "I have already taken care of it," He said. And with those words my spirit rejoiced and my heart believed.
Those few months at the end of my third and last pregnancy marked the beginning of a transformation for me. After a diagnosis of melanoma, life was suddenly more precious and each day demanded celebration of the goodness of God all around me. But in the midst of celebration I was required to change. Moving forward required a thorough evaluation of every area of my life. Without change there can be no growth.
From September to December of that year I took the first steps of leaving behind a life of pleasing others and satisfying self and embraced this God I had almost forgotten.
I found myself in the middle of a crisis but really I had been in dangerous territory for some time.
As the doctor revealed my physical condition God exposed my spiritual condition.
Eight years later my transformation continues. I still hear whispers of the enemy and feel the pull of temptation to cram my schedule so full that God gets squeezed out. And I sometimes still feel the need to seek the approval of man at the expense of pleasing God.
But I remember that place. I remember the feeling of hopelessness and overwhelming anxiety and the fear that I could never do enough or never be good enough.
And I refuse to go back there.
Instead, I continue pressing forward, facing self and pride and lies of the enemy and sin head on, determined to live in communion with my Father. To know Him and to be known by Him.
I am amazed at His love and His mercy and His grace. I am thankful that He took me right where I was and loved me enough to refuse permission to stay there.
Our current Bible study has been challenging us to once again look within and allow God to change and transform us from the inside out. All week our focus has been transformation and change. And this morning our Pastor used our memory verse (Romans 12:2) as the center of his message. And the familiarity of his words brought me to my knees at the end of the service. "In transformational holiness God's voice begins to pierce through all the distractions and craziness of the world. It is here we begin to know His perfect will for our lives," Pastor James Holt.
I love how God confirms His message everywhere we go. If we are seeking Him, we shall surely find Him.
"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2
(PS...My biopsy results from last week were clear! Thank you for your prayers!)
Joining with Melissa Taylor and a community of women as we seek God and His word in our current Online Bible Study: Stressed - Less Living by Tracie Miles.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
I'm finding blessings in the strangest of places. With my eyes focused on my Savior, what could burden instead fills my heart with gratitude. I'm learning that "in quietness and trust is my strength." And my safe place is called surrender.
In trust, I can be thankful for His plans even when mine don't succeed.
In quietness, I can hear Him whisper truth to my soul.
And in surrender and rest, I find peace within... no matter the circumstances that surround me.
Today I am thankful:
- He loves me anyway. In my moments of doubt, fear, mistrust, and wandering, He loves me still. He doesn't give up on me in my weakness, but reassures me and woos me back with His unconditional, extravagant, indescribable love.
- He allows the hard places. It's in these places I dig deeper and discover more of Him. It's here my heart grows and my soul embraces. It's here, in this place of deepest need I catch a glimpse of my Father's heart and find refuge.
- His peace is real. I can know peace while laying on a doctor's table waiting on a biopsy. I can know peace even when I don't have all the answers. I can know peace when the world is chaotic. Though our hearts ache, the peace He promises is real. It doesn't make sense and I can't touch it with my fingers but my faith confirms its existence.
- His Word is true. The lies of the enemy that pound my ears daily threaten to leave me hopeless, afraid, and insecure, but when I turn my eyes to Jesus I find truth and freedom.
- He gives and He takes away. The end of one season is often hard and we don't always understand our leaving or His taking but waiting on the other side is another part of our story. And just as we have left one thing, another finds us.
Joining with Melissa Taylor and a community of women as we seek God and His word in our current Online Bible Study: Stressed - Less Living by Tracie Miles.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
My heart is heavy for so many families tonight. All week tragedy has filled my news feed and blasted from my television. I lay down in surrender, trusting that whatever happens around me, Jesus remains the same. In tragedy and loss, in heartache and sadness, in brokenness and grief, He offers comfort and peace the world cannot give.
When circumstances threaten to squeeze and strangle and take the very breath that fills our lungs, Jesus breathes life and gifts grace to trust Him even still.
"Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble (anxiety, bad news, danger, difficulty, concern, dilemma, grief, heartache, pain, sorrow, stress), and he saved (defended, freed, guarded, healed, protected, released, rescued, safeguarded) them from their distress (ache, affliction, anguish, anxiety, concern, disappointment, sadness, sorrow, suffering, worry)." Psalm 107:19
Though our hearts ache, the peace He promises is real. It doesn't make sense and I can't touch it with my fingers but my faith confirms its existence. As uncertainty abounds in this unstable, ever-changing world we live in we must remind ourselves our hope is not found here. Eternity rests in the very depths of our souls and we know this world is not our final destination.
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Joining with Melissa Taylor and a community of women as we seek God and His word in our current Online Bible Study: Stressed - Less Living by Tracie Miles.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Some scriptures from our current Online Bible Study.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Our assignment yesterday for our OBS (Online Bible Study) with Melissa Taylor was to write a letter to ourselves from God using our scriptures from this week. It is perfect timing for me. My heart is overwhelmed at God's love for me this morning. I am sharing my letter and praying that it will speak to you, as well. Please feel free to insert your name and read it as a letter to you from God.
Good morning, daughter.
Let me quiet your fears and anxious heart this morning for I truly am with you. Do not be intimidated or discouraged by any negative reports. Keep your confidence and hope in me for I am your God. I will give you strength and I will be your help. I will sustain you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. The battle has already been won. Because you have set me always before you, you shall not be moved. Because your eyes are on me, you can stand firm in this place. Give me your cares, Shelly. Lay your burdens at my feet, beautiful daughter. Release the weight of it. You were not meant to carry this. I hear your voice. I hear your cries and I will rescue you. I will deliver you from distress and trouble. My promises are certain and my Word is truth. Find rest today in me and do not be shaken. I am your God. I am Jehovah Shalom, your peace. I am Jehovah-Nissi, your banner. I am Jehovah Rapha, your healer. I am Jehovah-Shammah, I am present. I am El-Shaddai, sufficient for all your needs. I am Jehovah-Rohi, your shepherd.
Rest in me.
(Psalm 16:8, Psalm 55:22, 2 Samuel 22:7, Psalm 34:17, Isaiah 41:10)
Thursday, April 11, 2013
When schedules are stretched and pressure builds and test results knock the breath out of us.
When my heart is overwhelmed and God feels distant.
When scriptures on grace and provision read like a fairytale.
It's in these times circumstances tempt me to forget who God is.
But I remember the story of Elisha's servant in 2 Kings. He trembled when he saw the Syrian army and all its chariots and horses surrounding them. He feared for his life and his strength failed at the sight of the enemy. But Elisha prayed for his servant, "O Lord, open his eyes that he may see."
"As the servant's spiritual eyes were opened, he saw God's resources far outweighed that of his enemy... When our eyes are focused on the enemy, we miss God's provision. When fear rules our thoughts and emotions, it is difficult to see and believe in faith all that God can do."
Sometimes we just need to open our spiritual eyes and see what God has already done. His army is already in place. The victory is already secured.
When we open our Bibles, we can know this truth.
He speaks to us in Isaiah, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NLT
- Do not be AFRAID (scared, fearful, frightened, terrified, alarmed, anxious, panicky, faint-hearted, cowardly, apprehensive).
- Do not be DISCOURAGED (dispirited, dismayed, depressed, have your hopes dashed, have your spirits dampened, have your confidence destroyed, intimidated).
- I AM YOUR GOD.
- El Shaddai - Lord God, Almighty
- Yahweh - Lord, Jehovah
- Jehovah Nissi - The Lord My Banner
- Jehovah-Raah - The Lord My Shepherd
- Jehovah-Shamman - The Lord is There
- Jehovah Jireh - The Lord Will Provide
- Jehovah Shalom - The Lord is Peace
- (Read here for more names of God)
- I will STRENGTHEN (make stronger, give strength to, reinforce, fortify, build up, support, sustain, restore, enhance, improve) YOU.
- I will HELP (aid, assist, support, uphold, side with, champion, back, advance, encourage, advocate, take the part of, maintain, intercede for, stick up for, go to bat for, guide, save, rescue, snatch from danger) YOU.
His Word breathes life into us.
To know His Word is to know Him.
When we study His Word our eyes are opened.
And just like Elisha's servant, we can see.
We can know that He who is with us is far greater than those who are against us (1 John 4:4, 2 Kings 6:16).
Anxiety, stress, and fear have to leave.
We can know and have peace and assurance and rest.
Whatever you need today. God is.
Open your bible and see with your spiritual eyes.
Our victory has already been secured.
Linking today with Melissa Taylor and 6000+ women all over the world as we seek God's word in the Stressed-Less Living (by Tracie Miles) Online Bible Study. We would LOVE for you to join us!
Posted by Shelly at 10:29 AM
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Some days are harder than others.
Sometimes life can be overwhelming.
I find comfort and refreshing in quiet times with my Savior.
"Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation."
Are you overwhelmed, stressed, or without peace? Do you desire to surrender all to Jesus and accept His peace and joy even in the middle of the craziness of life? Join me and thousands of other women on Melissa Taylor's blog for a Bible study and reading of Stressed-Less Living by Tracie Miles. Starts April 7th. Click here to visit Melissa's blog and get signed up today :)
Posted by Shelly at 5:59 PM
Monday, March 25, 2013
There are days I want to quit.
Days I want to turn off the computer, lay down my pen, and submit an application to a sophisticated boutique where my employee discount would get me twenty percent off of cute shoes and pretty dresses.
I have thought about it, you know.
I wonder, is this thing I'm doing making a difference?
Should I venture from this place and look for something new?
And then the thought of not writing makes my heart ache.
The thought of not sharing through words makes it hard to breathe and I know what, really, I already knew.
I know I belong here with you.
Here in this space sharing life experiences, broken places, and lessons learned.
And there in my writer's desk pounding sentences and building chapters with words that may never be read.
When I'm here I feel like we could sit and have a brownie or I could dip my chocolate covered old fashioned donut in my coffee and you wouldn't mind.
And when I'm there sometimes it's lonely but words heal as they spill out and faith tells me one day they will heal someone else, too.
So I keep writing.
And my heart smiles when you pull up a chair and join me.
Thank you for listening, friends.
And thank you for being a part of this journey, wherever it may lead us.
Is there something you know (but sometimes doubt) you were born to do? Is there a passion for something that drives you forward and keeps you pressing in even when your flesh flirts with discouragement and your heart tempts to fail? I would love to hear this part of your story. :)
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
(My little blog has been severely neglected lately, as I am working (again) on my book that will one day (by faith) be published. I miss this space, and all of you. :) Thought I would take a break to post tonight and say hello.)
It was Spring Break and the boys bathed in the mud that morning. They also peppered the living room and hallway with forgotten toys and left-over crumbs from their microwaved lunch. But as I stared at the carton of chocolate delight all I could think about was surprising them with a double-decker, Rocky Road, waffle ice cream cone.
I walked outside and there they sat. Dirty and right in the middle of a home-made fort, built with broken pieces of outdoor furniture, leftover lumber, and any salvageable yard debris they could find.
My heart was giddy as my hands carefully held their dripping surprises behind my back. Certain my smile would give me away I tried to make small talk on the way to their newly constructed site.
"Whatcha doing, guys?"
"We're just sitting in our fort."
"That's a nice fort. How about an ice cream break?"
Their eyes lit up when met with chocolate bliss and a gasp of happiness escaped their eight and nine year old mouths.
My heart overflowed in the midst of their messes.
Isn't that how God is? He finds us dirty, sitting broken and scrounging for leftovers. And He finds joy in blessing. His Father heart desires to surprise us with extravagant gifts. Showing up when we least expect Him, He offers grace and opens mercy in the morning.
God sees you.
No matter where you are or what is going on, He knows.
And His heart overflows with love FOR YOU.
"Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39
Monday, March 4, 2013
It is so tempting to want to hold back part of ourselves (or all of ourselves), giving God only the "good" parts of us or what we feel is acceptable. When in reality, Jesus is what makes us worthy, not anything we can do on our own or any super feats we have accomplished.
God asks that we lay our lives before Him. Total surrender. Giving Him every part of us. Our whole selves. Holding nothing back.
He asks that we lay before Him all that is in us.
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
He takes our weak places and displays His strength and power to the world.
He has been known to use the foolish things to confound the wise.
He takes our mistakes and turns them into a message of forgiveness.
It's easier to believe God looks at our struggles and failures and turns His back. But He doesn't. He sees all of us and still...invites us to come.
Is there something you're holding back?
Don't wait until you feel "ready." Surrender now and watch God's power within you transform you and change you from the inside out. And expect Him to use your life as a message to bring hope and healing to those around you!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Corinthians 1:27
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. Ephesians 1:7
Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Mark 5:19
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Thursday, February 28, 2013
"Because I said so!" I replied. "I don't have to give you a reason. The answer is just NO."
As I walked away the words echoeing in my ear sounded strangely familiar.
Suddenly transported back to a time of curfews and acid washed denim I remembered how often I had asked the same question and was met with the same answer. "No."
"Because I said so," my mother would respond, "and you'll just have to trust me. One day you will understand."
One day, this day, I understood.
My heart was pricked and I knew God was speaking to me.
Like a child, I often stomp my feet and demand an answer or reason when God simply whispers, "No."
"But God...it's a good thing!"
"But God...I've waited so long..."
I now understand His silence.
Because He said so. That's all. No explanation necessary.
Trust and obey...I wish I could say this is always my natural response - instant obedience and unconditional trust - but you already have a picture of me stomping my feet so I won't even try.
I don't always make the right decisions, but my God is big enough to pick me up and put me back on the path He has chosen for me.
And to continue my journey sucessfully, I have to trust that He can see the flashing lights ahead, the bridge that's broken and uncrossable, or the storm that can be avoided by taking a different route.
And I have to obey.
Even if I don't understand why.
Monday, February 25, 2013
White walls, hard chairs, forms to fill out, questions to answer, and a small fee if you could afford it. Our state-run health clinic wasn't very busy that day.
I remember sitting, my hands covering my face. A few months ago I graduated third in my high school class. I was in my first semester of college. I was 19. And I was pregnant.
Last week my husband and I celebrated twenty-one years of marriage. Our hearts are bigger, our pride is smaller, and our commitment more resolute than it has ever been.
This journey has not always been easy.
And when your matrimonial bliss begins at nineteen and three months pregnant with child, it takes faith to see a happy ending. It takes courage to keep going and it takes God in all things.
My friend, Warren, wrote a post this week titled "Unnecessary Burdens." In his post, Warren talks about all the things we accumulate and acquire during our marriage, during our lifetime together. But he also commented that a successful marriage "is not just a matter of accumulating; it is a matter of letting go, too."
I know a little about letting go. We both do.
We had to let go of some strange ideas we had about marriage, some crazy expectations we had of each other, and a lot of baggage we both brought into our new life together.
And honestly, there are things we have to let go of and forgive everyday.
Little (and BIG) annoyances, offenses, imperfections, frustrations, unreal expectations, failures, disappointments, mistakes....
There is an idea that things, people, relationships can be perfect.
In this imperfect world, there is an illusion of perfection.
But the truth is, nothing in this world is perfect. No matter how good we are, we can't be perfect.
We mess up, we make mistakes, we fall short. And so do our spouses.
When Shawn and I found out (very quickly) that marriage was hard work we had some decisions to make. We had to decide if we were going to take seriously the vows we spoke before God. We had to decide to ignore the criticism and shame and negative words hurled at us from others because of our imperfect beginning. We had to decide if we were willing to put forth the effort it would take to continue our journey together. We had to decide to forgive. Over and over and over again. And we had to decide daily to put God first.
We've crawled through valleys, slammed bedroom doors, trudged through wildernesses, screamed unkind words, climbed over mountains, cried our eyes out, and even turned our backs on God. But we always ended up on our knees, surrendered to the One whose strength is made perfect in our weaknesses...to the One whose blood washes our sins white as snow, to the One who knew us in our darkest places and loved us still.
The secret to our success? It's Him.
He gets all the credit and all the glory for our twenty-one years of marriage. We stand in awe of His mercy and grace. We stand amazed at His unconditional love. And we marvel at His forgiveness.
He never gives up on us, so we choose not to give up on each other.
I look forward to pouring out more of our story here on these pages in the future.
“Love is not self seeking, it’s not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong.” (1 Corinthians 13:5 )
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for each other.” (1 John 3:16)
Matthew 19:4-6 He answered, ”Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said,’Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
My friend, Shanda, shared this beautiful song and video by Casting Crowns on her blog today. I pray that God waters your soul as you listen to these words. Allow Him to speak to your heart and show you what YOU need to leave behind. When you're finished, click over and read Shanda's story of "Leaving it All Behind."
Posted by Shelly at 12:42 PM